The American left-hander had dueled with compatriot Rickie
Fowler, Swede Henrik Stenson and eventual winner Rory McIlroy
throughout Sunday's final round before a bogey at the par-four 16th
effectively ended his bid.
"That was a costly bogey in the end," Mickelson told reporters after
firing a five-under 66 at a rain-soaked Valhalla Golf Club to finish
at 15-under 269, a shot behind the triumphant McIlroy.
"It was a fun day for me to get in the mix and a fun day for me to
make some birdies and move up early so that I had a good chance on
the back nine.
"I'm disappointed in the outcome. I thought that, had I been able to
finish those last five, six holes strong, it could have totally
flipped the way I look at this year," added Mickelson, who had been
bidding for a sixth major victory.
A 42-times winner on the PGA Tour, Mickelson had not recorded a
single top-10 this season in 17 starts heading into Valhalla, though
he had been encouraged by a closing 62 at last week's
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
"Now I've got some regrouping to do these next three for four
months," said the 44-year-old Californian. "I have some glaring
areas in my game that I have to work on.
"I feel like if I'm able to continue to be strong and healthy and
sharp in these areas of my game, I should have four or five good
years that I really want to focus in on.
"These next three or four months will be critical for me, making
sure that I address the issues and that I'm ready to go in 2015."
[to top of second column]
Asked to specify the areas of his game that needed improvement,
Mickelson replied: "Driving, short irons were terrible this year as a
whole. It's usually a strength and I've got to get that back."
For much of Sunday's final round, however, it was the old 'Phil the
Thrill' in action, five birdies in the first 11 holes generating huge
roars from his faithful fans.
Known for his magical short-game skills, Mickelson made a series of
clutch putts, none better than a 30-footer to save par at the 12th.
At that point, though, Mickelson failed to kick on over the closing
"After the good par putt on 12, I had a good chance on 13, didn't hit a
great putt," said the American, who is popularly known as 'Lefty'.
"Hit a good shot on 14, didn't hit a great putt. Hit a good putt on 15.
Thought that might go in. It just fell off low.
"I feel like I'm a lot closer to great play than what this year showed,
and this is just a little glimpse of what I feel I can do. I'll see if I
can work on it some more, but I'm optimistic that I'll be able to
address these issues."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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